Do you identify with your emotional baggage? Will you argue and fight for it, almost as if it is an addiction? I have been teaching for over twenty years, and I have met people that will do just that. They will do this even when there is a possibility of self-improvement by releasing it, and being free of that energy. Why would anyone do this?
You know you are addicted to your baggage when it seems that many of your conversations lead to you talking about the negative times, rather than the positive ones. Let me to give you a couple of examples. You are out with your friends, and, soon enough, the conversation goes to how you could have done so much more with your life, or, how your ex is the root of all evil.
As a Doctor of Psychology, I do realize the importance of ‘emotional disclosure’, which is a fancy way of saying ‘letting it out, rather than keeping it in’. And, as a human being, I too have started conversations with a discussion on how things are going wrong rather than right. However, there is a point at which the “letting it out” as a form of venting ends; and you are simply becoming addicted to what the baggage does for you.
Let’s check to see if your emotional baggage is your addiction:
- Do you find yourself leading with your pain?
- When faced with the possibility of letting it go, do you argue your side?
- If someone else is sharing a pain point or a difficult time, do you feel compelled to “one up them” by telling an even worse story about something that happened to you?
- And sadly, if someone shares something positive, do you share something negative with the idea that you are “keeping it real”?
Now, ask yourself, “Am I benefiting from this baggage?” or, “Is this baggage getting a benefit from me?”
Emotional baggage is simply trapped energy from an unresolved situation that has occurred in the past. Maybe it is anger or fear that you are holding on to. It could also be a limiting belief, such as, “I am not worthy of success.” I have seen people who have a fear of failure, and who self-sabotage at critical times in their lives. In many of these cases, even though the person is desperate to let go of the baggage and be free of it, they will fight for it, and cling to it because it gives them a benefit; they find comfort in the predictable thought pattern.
This may sound crazy, but until you realize that by being free of the baggage, you essentially end all your excuses; and so have to take responsibility for your results. Let us explore how this happens, and how we create our baggage.
A “bad” thing occurs and you do not know how to deal with it. Rather than just letting it go, you bury it deep down into your unconscious. “I will deal with this later” is something I have heard, time and time again. Sometimes you do deal with it later, but many in our society do not. You begin to accumulate more and more emotional baggage, until it becomes so heavy that it is weighing you down, and holding you back from your dreams.
Some people begin to identify more with the baggage than they do with themselves. That is when you know it has reached the extreme. It becomes their “story.” It becomes the thing they lead with. We have all encountered individuals who begin to tell you about the bad times before you even get to know them! You have just learned their name, and they are start telling you about how bad things are.
We also find this when we are sharing a positive experience, or saying how amazing things are going. Then the person we are talking to, who is addicted to their baggage, will make a point of wanting to “keep it real” by telling us everything that could go wrong. I remember my son sharing a story at a gathering on how great things were going in high school, and how amazing things were; only to have an adult interrupt him and chime in to point out that this may only be temporary, and then go on to reminisce on how horrible high school had been for him. The story continued for some time, and my son simply stood there listening. This adult kept saying, “I just don’t want you to be disappointed WHEN the bad times come.”
I agree! Bad times come. But, there is no need to shoot down a positive attitude so that the past bad times can take center stage, is there?
I often encounter both of these in my live events. And while sometimes this is a person wanting to be free of their emotional baggage by having a discussion with me; at other times, it is a person who is so addicted to their baggage, that they need to feed it with attention. I have found that the difference between these two types of people occurs when you begin to offer them a different perspective.
For example, someone may start to share a story about difficult time. When it is my turn to respond, I will thank them for trusting me enough to share this, and then begin to explain what they can do to put this baggage down. What they can do to be free of their baggage. Individuals that want freedom ask for more, they want to know how to go about doing this. Individuals who are addicted to their baggage will begin to explain why what I am saying will not work, and how they are going to be stuck with it forever.
So I think that maybe they have tried so many things, including the solution that I had suggested, and I offer yet another approach, only to be met with another rebuttal. I remember one specific instance where I pointed out to a student, using examples of people who had been able to let go of this type of issue, and how the techniques we teach had the ability to help him release the baggage. When, before I could finish, he was launching into his next example of what his baggage had done to him.
It is as if the person cannot hear, or think, about letting it go. One student of mine had so much awareness of the fact that she was arguing for her baggage, that she gave me an amazing insight. She said that while she wanted to let it go, the thought of letting it go, itself, was scary! She literally said, “If I let this go, what would I talk about with my friends and family?”
I remember at the time thinking, “Well… To start… Something positive?”
Instead, I had her check inside, and ask herself; “Will my desired result bring me more joy in the future, or will the baggage bring me more joy?”
In other words, look into your future, as far out as you can see. Now, look back to the present, and check to see what brings more love, happiness and joy. Will the excuse and the baggage bring in more happiness; or will the freedom from it bring in more happiness?
Go ahead, stop for a moment, and think about this. Go all the way out into the future. Which approach to life will bring you more fulfillment? I empathize with you in that the tough times are difficult, and we sometimes need to vent and let it out. And, towards the end of your life, if you continue to live with the emotional baggage, what will that do to you?
We all know that baggage harms the body, and I sometimes see it harming loved ones so much more than the person who carries it.
When you look out into the future, if you experience a vision of you being free of this, and living a life of happiness and fulfillment, would that be better?
If yes, here are some steps you can take to begin to resolve this, and move towards an empowered future:
- Find your pain point and consider if you are leading with this, and/or arguing for the baggage.
- If you are, look out into the future, and see if it will bring you more joy than being free of the emotional baggage.
- When you come to the realization that freedom from the baggage is better, ask yourself, what steps do you need to take today to begin to be free?
- Begin with one step at a time. One small win will add to another, and another. By getting the momentum going, you will begin to move towards an empowered future.
If you want to know more about how to mentally, and emotionally release your baggage, click here.